Don’t use water at Perth Children’s Hospital until all clear: AMA (WA)

Don’t use water at Perth Children’s Hospital until all clear: AMA (WA)

Tuesday 10 January 2017


Anyone visiting or working at the new Perth Children’s Hospital should avoid contact with the water unless independent testing has given the all clear, the Australian Medical Association (WA) said today.


AMA (WA) President Dr Andrew Miller was reacting to comments made today by Health Minister John Day about the new hospital and indications that he would be happy to accept filters placed on the pipes.


“We are not reassured to hear the Minister say the hospital opening will not be rushed and that it will only occur once the water quality is totally safe,” Dr Miller said.


“The problem is that a filter may have been working when tested yesterday but what about today or next week? How many filters? If they don’t even understand where the lead is coming from, where will the filters be located? How expensive are they are and how often are they to be replaced?


“This building is going to be in intensive use for many decades – to seriously suggest filters as a lifelong solution is nonsense – they should find the lead and remove it.”


“The only way of fixing this problem properly for the children and taxpayers of WA is to completely rid the pipes of unsafe lead or to replace the pipes themselves. Anything else is a desperately transparent effort to get the hospital opened quickly.


“Accepting filters would be letting the contractor off the hook and leave governments facing an unknown cost over the 50 – 70 year life of the hospital. How often would the water be tested and at what cost into the future? Princess Margaret Hospital is crumbling after being around for a century, but at least it doesn’t have lead in the water supply.


“The only acceptable solution is to fix the problem by completely removing the lead or the replacing the pipes, and doctors are willing to wait until this is done to the satisfaction of the best independent experts.


“If the hospital is opened before it is verified safe for the long term by credible experts, we will be forced to recommend that doctors not work there and that anyone visiting the hospital, especially already sick children, not be in contact with the water,” Dr Miller said.

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"It is my hope that we can tackle the challenges our profession faces, united as one. If we dislike our working hours, our pay, gender inequality or low training opportunities, we can change these together. As a nurse in my previous life, I know that when a profession stands as one, people listen."
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